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Getting Enough Iron

British Columbia Specific Information

Iron deficiency anemia means that your body does not have enough iron. Iron is important because it helps carry oxygen to all parts of your body. For more information on iron, see HealthLinkBC File #68c Iron and Your Health, HealthLinkBC File #68d Iron in Foods and HealthLinkBC File #69c Baby’s First Foods.

You may also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered dietitian, Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can Email a HealthLinkBC Dietitian.

Topic Overview

How much dietary iron is recommended each day?

Recommended daily amounts of iron from food footnote 1



8 mg


Adult (age 50 and older)

8 mg

Adult (ages 19 to 50)

18 mg


27 mg


9 mg to 10 mg

Adolescents (ages 9 to 18)


8 mg to 15 mg


8 mg to 11 mg

Children (birth to age 8)

Ages 4 to 8

10 mg

Ages 1 to 3

7 mg

Infants (7 months to 1 year)

11 mg

Infants (birth to 6 months)

0.27 mg

What foods are high in iron?

You can get iron from many foods. Beef and turkey are good sources of iron from meat or animal protein. Beans are good sources of iron from plants. Iron from meat is absorbed by your body more fully than iron from plants. Some foods can decrease the amount of iron that your body will absorb. But meat and vitamin C can help your body absorb more iron from plants. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian about how to be sure you are getting enough iron.

Iron-fortified foods include cereals.

Protein foods footnote 2

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Beans, cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)


Ground meat (beef, lamb), cooked

2½ oz (75 g)


Chicken, cooked

2½ oz (75 g)


Tofu, cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)


Turkey, cooked

2½ oz (75 mg)


Vegetables and fruits footnote 2

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Potato with skin, cooked

1 medium


Prune juice

½ cup (125 mL)


Spinach (cooked)

½ cup (125 mL)


Whole grain foods footnote 2

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Cereal, dry

30 g (check label for serving size)


Oatmeal (instant), cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)


Pasta, egg noodles, enriched, cooked

½ cup (125 mL)




  1. Health Canada (2005). Dietary reference intakes: Reference values for elements. Available online:
  2. Health Canada (2008). Nutrient value of some common foods. Ottawa: Health Canada. Also available online:


Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Colleen O'Connor PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian